Monday, February 28, 2011

Robot Ethics

Pat Lin, Keith Abney & George Bekey have a piece out in Artificial Intelligence that is based on the introduction to their forthcoming edited collection Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics that will be out in late 2011 from MIT Press with contributions by Peter Asaro, Anthony Beavers, Selmer Bringsjord, Marcello Guarini, James Hughes, Gert-Jan Lokhorst, Matthias Scheutz, Noel Sharkey, Rob Sparrow, Jeroen van den Hoven, Gianmarco Veruggio, Kevin Warwick, and the keepers of this blog.

Surrounded by machines

Ken Pimple has blogged his new article "Surrounded by Machines" in the Communications of the ACM. Too bad it's behind a firewall. Here's the start:

A chilling scenario portends a possible future.

Kenneth D. Pimple

Communications of the ACM
Vol. 54 No. 3, Pages 29-31

Credit: Viktor Koen
I predict that in the near future a low-budget movie will become a phenomenon. It will be circulated on the Internet, shared in the millions via mobile telephones, and dominate Facebook for a full nine days. It will show ordinary people going about their everyday lives as slowly, subtly, everything starts to go wrong as described in the following events.

Beware of the DARPA Cheetah-Bot

The Cheeth-Bot is just one of the new robots being developed by Boston Dynamics, the creators of Big-Dog.
As the name implies, Cheetah is designed to be a four-legged robot with a flexible spine and articulated head (and potentially a tail) that runs faster than the fastest human. In addition to raw speed, Cheetah’s makers promise that it will have the agility to make tight turns so that it can “zigzag to chase and evade” and be able to stop on a dime.

Aside from its unspecified military applications, Cheetah’s makers see it galloping to the rescue and building a brave new future in the fields of “emergency response, firefighting, advanced agriculture and vehicular travel.”

Read the full article from WIRED on Boston Dynamics here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Zeno Reincarnated by Hanson Robotics

Watson Beyond Jeopardy

John Markoff reports on the follow-up for IBM after the Watson win in a New York Times article titled, Computer Wins on ‘Jeopardy!’: Trivial, It’s Not.
For I.B.M., the showdown was not merely a well-publicized stunt and a $1 million prize, but proof that the company has taken a big step toward a world in which intelligent machines will understand and respond to humans, and perhaps inevitably, replace some of them.

Watson, specifically, is a “question answering machine” of a type that artificial intelligence researchers have struggled with for decades — a computer akin to the one on “Star Trek” that can understand questions posed in natural language and answer them.

Watson showed itself to be imperfect, but researchers at I.B.M. and other companies are already developing uses for Watson’s technologies that could have a significant impact on the way doctors practice and consumers buy products.

2000+ Ground Robots in Afghanistan

For every 50 US soldiers in Afghanistan, we have about 1 robot, but those numbers are getting better every year. From 2009 to 2010, 1400 terrestrial bots were sent to Afghanistan according to Lt. Col. Dave Thompson who spoke at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International program review earlier this month. The Marine Corps Colonel stated that about one third of these robots weren’t used for the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) missions that such ground bots have become famous for. Instead, soldiers are increasingly employing these systems for reconnaissance and surveillance.

Read the full article for Singularity Hub.

Friday, February 4, 2011

BBC News on Japanese robot acceptance

BBC News has a story today on the limited success of humanoid robots in Japanese nursing homes. They report that there's greater acceptance of the emotion-engaging Paro, although it's not a commercial success. And then there are the high-tech toilet seats, appearing beneath you soon: